Camping Food

Camping?  Well, yes, sort of.  Recently, I inherited a ‘camping trip’ for 4 teenagers…  Fortunately, I was able to diminish the ‘tents and open fires’ element by reserving dormitory beds in the Pholela Hiking Hut instead.  I borrowed a two plate gas hob to do the cooking from my brother and packed all my favourite pots. The very nice outdoor boma provided a civilised alternative when open fire was required. Padkos snacks were raw organic carrots – which went down well, so I was feeling confident.

carrots Nkulu

I’d decided, as I was now in charge, it would be vegetarian food although I knew the Zulu boys might not be thrilled.  Wendy, however professes to be vegetarian so I hoped to inspire her at least.  I stocked up on fabulous local organic ingredients and then made a terrifying trip to the supermarket (something I absolutely NEVER do) for the ‘basics’.  I was overwhelmed by the colours, noise, packaging and bizarre amount of choice.  So off we went, stopping at Pucketty Farm Stall in Underberg for their famous homemade bread and chocolate brownies.

cobham 046.pucketty res

We arrived in the cold and rain, so I was ever so grateful for not attempting to actually camp.  The kids built a big fire and played cards with tea and brownies to sustain them.  All I had to do was heat up the chickpea stew I’d made the day before and whip up some polenta to go with it.

cobham nikki kitchen res

Oh dear, chickpeas were far too weird for this company!  As this stew is my standby mainstay for big parties, and usually gets good reviews, I had thought I’d be safe.  They did politely eat some but there was TONS left over!  Fortunately, Wenceslas Duma who works at Cobham, accepted the rest with delight and pronounced them delicious!  “Eish, chipkins” become a constant refrain – especially when I served up a small bowl for lunch the next day too. Wendy gamely tried, but fervently hopes she will never come across one ever again!

cobham wendy chickpea

Breakfast were based around free range eggs. Everyone was chatting about happy eggs in no time. Yay! progress!

cobham 074.res

Everyone loved the Fry’s soya based ‘meat products’ – ok, I’ll admit,  I chickened out of being hardcore.  I knew they would like these – the ‘Louisiana Tenders’  were a hit (little drum stick shaped KFC wannabees) and the sausages were a familiar brown.  Even though everyone was slightly suspicious at first (check out those faces!).

cobham louisiana tenders res.

There were protestations of “I don’t like beetroot”,  however organic steamed beetroot with olive oil, garlic  and balsamic was suddenly a favourite.  See Vusi eyeing the last scraps!

cobham vusi beetroot res.

I was absolutely fascinated by the combinations of sandwiches the kids made for breakfast and lunch – almost trying to outdo one another with weird and wonderful combinations.   Tomato, banana and peanut butter anyone?

cobham 075 interesting sandwich res.

The next night we served up lentil and potato curry with green beans, accompanied by basmati rice.  This was far more successful. Although Wendy picked out all the lentils and only ate the potatoes. She’s going to have a hard time being vegetarian eating only potatoes!

So I was feeling a bit vulnerable, I have to say. Although I knew the food was good, delicious and nutritious, I did want everyone to be happy.  At the same time, the excursion was NOT about food – it was meant to be a wilderness experience to inspire more positive environmental action.   Lots of Wedgwood nougat helped – we can buy ‘seconds’ at a bargain price at the Karkloof Farmers Market – I was very pleased that I had.

A huge fresh watermelon which we carted down to the river to eat in the water and on the hot rocks was a great success! Win some lose some.

Nkulu was absolutely NOT going to do the dishes, despite the roster they created. He was however happy to make the fire.

cobham 409.res

We had imagined everyone would enthusiasticlly skewer organic veg onto the sticks. Ooooh no. Well, Christeen and I had fun with the colours. When they were cooked however, everyone enjoyed them despite their apprehension (masses of Morrocan spices may have helped).  The homemade Lemon Cordial and Mint Syrup were popular, to my surprise.

cobham kebabs res

The pasta with tomato sugo (heaps of fresh herbs hidden in the sauce) which followed the kebabs, was the best received dish of the trip.  I even used the leftovers to make pasta salad crammed with sundried tomatoes, almonds and herbs for lunch the next day and it still went down well.

Despite not doing the best job at promoting vegetarianism, I did have the most marvellous weekend imaginable.   Especially, Wendy’s comment “We must be happy for the food we eat because it is given to us with an opened heart.”   Enjoy all the gorgeous photos we took and read all about it at:

cobham marutswa picnic. res.

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Meriel mitchell says:

    You did a very good job with the children/ learners?! food wise that is. Very patient you were…. I thought the chickpea dish looked by far the most delicious of them all. Anyone remember the starving children of Biafra? My children thought I had invented a new country in Africa!


  2. Bridget Ringdahl says:

    Good job Nikki, next time you have to show some pre dinner snippets of what really happens behind the scenes of having a nice steak/sausage/leg or whatever on your plate!
    Fussy eaters are indeed astonishing but you got them thinking and out of a comfort zone 😉
    PS Frys are really helpful as a ‘transition’ food that much must be said and that is exactly what Tammy Fry’s ultimate mission is…


  3. lemons says:

    Hey Nikki sounds like a success story – well much better than i manage with my teenagers – yours at least tried to eat it! I am a bit surprised that no one in my family minded the horsemeat in burger saga, perhaps having eaten our own pets makes them not care. Sounds like you had loads of fun, i hope you let them cook their own sausages next time. (just for one of the meals)


  4. des says:

    Picky eaters amaze me too! Like people who dont eat tomatoes. So, like, what do they eat!! So next time you do this trip, please can I pretend to be a teenager and come eat all your yummy food?


  5. I did pick out the worst/most amusing bits to make the story, Liz, and yes, their diet is mostly vegetarian anyway, you are quite right. There was however the feeling that a celebration (as this undoubtedly was) should include meat. Of course, I disagreed. Murdering things for one’s personal pleasure seems truly bizarre (never mind the environmental concerns). As someone who eats almost anything (besides other animals), picky eaters always astonish me! I guess I have forgotten what it was like feeding teeenagers, especially as our kids have all grown into compassionate eaters.


  6. Liz Gow says:

    This is a very funny blog which made me laugh aloud. Surely umkhupa and imifino are vegetarian and could have been received with better grace by these amazed youngsters. I can only imagine that Dad & Mum back home were told many stories on their return and not only about environmental matters…..Liz


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